STORRS, Conn. — Connecticut’s Morgan Tuck had enjoyed more restful nights than the one she endured on Tuesday.

Having already taken part in grueling training sessions on the UConn campus with local Marines, a major test for her surgically-repaired knee, Tuck could barely wait for the two-time defending national champion UConn women’s basketball team to begin practice.

Tuck was not limited in any way during the exhausting opening practice after knee issues forced her to miss 32 games a season ago.

“I was in class ready for practice,” Tuck said. “I am feeling really good and my knee doesn’t bother me so it is going well.”

David Butler II | USA Today Sports Images
Tuck was sidelined after playing 32 games.

Tuck made the difficult decision to undergo surgery not long after scoring a season-high 19 points in a Jan. 7 win against Houston.

“Now that I look back on it, maybe it was a Godsend,” head coach Geno Auriemma said. “Maybe it was the best thing that ever happened because she looks great.”

“Morgan has been killing it since she came back this summer, looking better than I have ever seen her.” said Moriah Jefferson of her teammate’s progress.

Tuck said her time on the sidelines helped with the way she approaches the game.

“I think I learned how to read [plays] things better. When you are out you see things that you don’t see on the court because you are worried about all the other things going on so I think watching has give me a new perspective.”

She was cleared for full practice a couple weeks back, in time to join her teammates for some rather arduous workouts with local Marines.

“Last year at the Final Four we had some Marines come visit and to be able to work out with them this preseason, I think it was really great,” Tuck said. “It was hard … Those [drills] things were some of hardest things I have ever done. At the end of the day they gave us a lot of great principles that we will use during this season.

The workouts with the Marines took place while Auriemma was in Europe coaching the U.S. national team to the gold medal at the FIBA World Championship for Women.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life by far, it really brought us together as a team.” Jefferson said. “We did some mentally tough things we thought we would never get to do.”

S/O to the post group!! @kaleena_23@kstokes41 and Natalie! Body drags were a struggle!!

— Morgan Tuck (@M_Tuck3) September 26, 2014